Brother André, a friend, a saint, a source of pride and life for all of us

It is no coincidence that Brother André was canonized on October 17, 2010, the world day for the fight against poverty. His whole life was dedicated to alleviating the suffering of others, to give them hope and to tell them that they are loved by God.

The history of the religious of Holy Cross in Canada and particularly in Quebec is deeply marked by the figure of Brother André. From the very beginning of his community life, Brother André was, to say the least, disturbing. In a community oriented towards teaching and pastoral work, how could one welcome the action of this man, who by his unconditional welcome and intense prayer, began to move crowds?

Through his work as doorman at Collège Notre-Dame, he clearly perceived this pressing call to welcome the suffering. He quickly became a friend, a brother to whom people confided. After the death of Brother André in 1937, his work continued to grow.

Today, Brother André remains for many of us a source of pride, energy and life, as Cardinal Turcotte reminded the 40,000 people who came to celebrate his canonization at Olympic Stadium on October 30, 2010: “This is not a small Saint that has been canonized, but a great, great one. This great saint—Brother André—is from our home. Among our parents and grandparents, or among the friends of our parents and grandparents, many knew him. He lived close to us on Mount Royal”. If the Church canonized Brother André, Cardinal Turcotte reminded us, it is above all “for what he has to say and to show to men and women of today. He first tells us and shows us that life is beautiful and fruitful when it is oriented towards listening to and serving others. He let all the unfortunate people […] come to him… After listening, he comforted. He invited to courage and hope. He urged people to trust in God.”

Secondly, what Brother André says and shows is that “a life deserves to be lived in the company of God. Brother André had a living faith in God… ”  A faith that was bathed in love… Brother André reminds us that what gives taste to life and makes it fruitful is to live it with God, in his intimacy and in his love.

This great celebration strongly invited us to follow the example of Saint Brother André, to put our steps in his; simply, with boldness and faith, with vision and conviction. It was a reminder of our commitment as baptized people to allow ourselves to be inhabited by God’s love and to live our lives in service to others, as witnesses of God’s compassion and love.

Brother André teaches us, says Jacques Gauthier, that “holiness is not a decoration granted to an elite, but a grace received from God… Brother André shows us how to be holy day by day: to love, to welcome, to listen, to forgive, to serve, to smile, to marvel, to reach out, to trust, to unite ourselves to God in faith, hope and love…”

At the same time, Brother André reveals to us the meaning and relevance of religious life today: to give one’s life, to be at the service of life, to live in communion with all creation.

Jean-Pierre Aumont, CSC